Helios “Bobby” Dayspring, 35, is set to plead guilty to one count of federal programs bribery and one count of filing a false tax return, according to a federal court plea agreement unsealed earlier this week. Dayspring is the owner of several cannabis farms and dispensaries up and down the Central Coast of California.
The first charges are to be made public in “an ongoing public corruption investigation”, according to a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Los Angeles. Dayspring is set to appear in court on August 25th after signing his plea agreement late last month.
Sandra Brown-Bodner, Dayspring’s lawyer, said her client “has fully accepted responsibility for his actions, has been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with the government.” Dayspring has also agreed to pay a $3.4 million restitution and cooperate with the prosecutors and IRS/FBI agents who are looking into corruption in San Luis Obispo County.
The document outlines how a prominent figure in California’s cannabis business industry was able to corrupt one of the county’s most powerful politicians. It details a series of text messages between the two, with Dayspring’s benefactor writing that he deserved “one giant French kiss wrapped in money” after fighting a proposal that would’ve banned outdoor cannabis grows — hurting Dayspring’s business.
In the agreement, Dayspring acknowledged that he funneled $29,000 in cash and $3,000 in money orders to the San Luis Obispo County supervisor, Adam Hill, who has since died of an overdose on cocaine and antidepressants earlier this month. Authorities have ruled Hill’s death a suicide as he had previously attempted suicide after federal agents served a search warrant at his government office in March 2020.
In exchange for bribes, Hill took official government actions that benefited Dayspring’s marijuana ventures, including voting in favor of exempting some cultivators from a moratorium on growing cannabis on unincorporated land and opposing a potential ban on outdoor marijuana grows.
He had begun paying Hill back in 2016, starting with three $3,000 money orders that he then deposited into his personal account. Dayspring then paid Hill an additional $9,000 in cash throughout the next year.
Later in 2017, the Board of Supervisors was trying to figure out if some growers should be exempt from the moratorium on cultivating cannabis on unincorporated county land. They unanimously decided to grant the abeyance to growers who had already registered with the county before the ban went into effect, which benefited Dayspring.
Through 2018, Dayspring was giving Hill $5,000 in cash and various “cannabis-related products”. They discussed the importance of keeping the abeyance in place in depth, writing in a text message “It’s really important u guys extend the timeframe for submission and don’t allow other people in yet,” according to the plea agreement.
Dayspring wrote in a later message that he had invested in several properties but warned that if he wasn’t “deemed complete” and didn’t get his permits, “I don’t get my ownership in the land.” To which, Hill replied “Got it. We’ll see what we can do. Extension of timeframe seems pretty reasonable and probably no one else in until everyone has been deemed complete.”
Not long after, the Board of Supervisors again voted unanimously to extend the abeyances. After which, Dayspring handed Hill $5,000 in cash outside of a restaurant in Avila Beach. He picked up the tab at another dinner in Pismo Beach and handed Hill another $5,000 in cash after the meal.
Three weeks later, Hill pushed his fellow supervisors to support an extension on the abeyance and move to add it to the next meeting’s agenda— though the motion failed. One week later, Dayspring and his associates spoke in favor of extending the abeyance. Hill again moved to place it on the agenda at the next meeting, to which the board passed 3 to 2 with Hill voting in favor.
Two months later, the board was considering a full ban on all outdoor cultivation, which would’ve left Dayspring with a “significant financial loss”.During the meeting, Hill and Dayspring were texting back and forth with Hill writing that he “had to keep these f— from going way beyond and it is exhausting! Where’s the industry support for my reelection??”
Three days later, Hill sent Dayspring and one of his employees a text that said “Tomorrow is your favorite County Supervisor’s birthday…what are you two [Cannabis] Kings gonna do for him??”. They ended up having a meal with him at a restaurant in Pismo Beach and gave him another $5,000 in cash afterward.
The next week, Hill writes to Dayspring and his employee again, saying “your industry should give me one giant French kiss wrapped in money after my work today.” Hill requested that Dayspring host a political fundraiser at his home, which raised more than $13,000.
However, Hill wasn’t the only person Dayspring tried to bribe. In an attempt to open two new cannabis dispensaries, he met with the mayor of Grover Beach, a small city south of San Luis Obispo. They met at a restaurant in Arroyo Grande in 2017.
Dayspring’s business partner told Dayspring that the mayor had been pushing for a bribe in exchange for granting their application for two dispensary permits. The mayor excused himself to the restroom and Dayspring’s partner said this was their chance to offer the bribe.
When the mayor returned, Dayspring typed “100,000” into the calculator on his phone and showed it to the mayor, saying this number was for “two”, meaning to convey that he was prepared to pay the mayor $100,000 for his help in securing the two dispensary permits.
The mayor never responded to his offer and no bribe was paid. Grover Beach officials did end up awarding Dayspring one dispensary permit, though.
Last but not least, Dayspring had also lied on his taxes in 2019, reporting that his taxable income was $1,262,894 when it actually exceeded $6.5 million. He underreported income on returns filed from 2014 to 2018, too. Hence the $3.4 million owed in restitution.